Fake News: Trump Did NOT Vote For Death Penalty For Being Gay

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

A widely circulated story that said President Trump voted in favor of the death penalty for being gay is false. The story has been published at least four times on the website Groupspeak and in several other locations with the title "Trump Votes For Death Penalty For Being Gay" and that simply is not true. The article opens:

President Trump and his administration just voted against a United Nations ban on the death penalty for being gay, making the United States of America (it's hard to think this is actually really happening) just one of 13 other countries in the world to oppose such a historic vote.

A few other notable countries who voted against the ban were China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

The resolution wasn't sought to ban the death penalty entirely, but instead to keep it from being imposed in a 'discriminatory manner,' particularly in six countries where the death penalty is used for people known to be in same-sex relationships: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia.

The inflammatory titled did make the article go widely viral each time it was republished and that is probably why it keeps getting reposted even thought the actual U.N. vote it was about occured in October 2017. As NBC News reported back then:

The resolution, titled "The Question of the Death Penalty," passed the U.N. Human Rights Council with 27 nations voting in favor, 13 voting against and seven abstentions. The multi-page resolution condemned the imposition of the death penalty when "applied arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner" and specifically condemned "the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations."

However, the resolution (which you can read in full here) also spoke out against the death penalty in general and that is why the United States voted against it as an official statement from the U.S. government explained:

The United States is disappointed that it must vote against this resolution. As in previous years, we had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the position of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully. We reaffirm our longstanding position on the legality of the death penalty, when imposed and carried out in a manner consistent with a state's international obligations.

We are deeply troubled whenever an individual subject to the death penalty is denied the procedural and substantive protections to which he or she is entitled. We, likewise condemn any instance in which a method of execution or treatment during confinement is applied in such a manner as to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of a state's international obligations. We cannot accept the implication, however, that all methods of execution have such a result.

The same resolution keeps getting proposed again and again (sometimes with minor alterations like the addition of wording about same-sex relations in this case). The United States has always voted against adopting it, even during the Obama administration as pointed out on Twitter by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.:

Analyzing the full claim in the title "Trump Votes For Death Penalty For Being Gay" we can definitely say it is false:

  • "Trump" - technically it was the Trump administration's representative at the United Nations but we can let that slide.
  • "Votes For" - the vote was against a U.N. resolution which would technically not even be binding, unlike what "voting for" seems to imply (enacting a law).
  • "Death Penalty For Being Gay" - the vote was about the death penalty in general (including the application of it for same-sex relationships and several other reasons). Not mentioning the things in the rest of the resolution is deeply misleading: it would be like having a vote on the (hypothetical) "Sunshine, Puppies and Killing Everybody on the Planet Act" and then saying someone is against sunshine and puppies for having voted against it.


So we rate this claim false.

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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